Getty Images

No. 2 Clemson clinches another ACC Atlantic title by beating banged up No. 17 Boston College

Leave a comment

Dabo Swinney was far from happy with his team’s performance on Saturday night. It didn’t matter in the end one bit though as the head coach was still left smiling after No. 2 Clemson clinched another ACC Atlantic division title by topping a beat up No. 17 Boston College squad 27-7 on a chilly night at Chestnut Hill.

Injuries might have been the biggest news to come out of the rather ho-hum game on both sides. Tigers starting left tackle Mitch Hyatt missed most of the second half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury while Eagles starting quarterback Anthony Brown left after just six snaps in the first quarter once he went down awkwardly following a hit. After heading to the locker room, the young signal-caller did not return to the game and probably ended what ever slim chances his team had to pull off the upset in the process.

That’s not to say Steve Addazio’s program gave up though, as they fought an uphill battle on both sides of the ball against a much more talented squad and kept things close for a few quarters. E.J. Perry replaced Brown under center but it was tough sledding on offense to get anything going (113 total yards) as the backup finished 12-of-21 for a respectable 98 yards. His arm was unable to loosen up the box at all for tailback A.J. Dillon though, who did overcome that bum ankle to start the game but rushed for just 39 hard-fought yards.

Two bright spots for the dudes on the hill? Defensive end Zach Allen was everywhere for the Eagles and had four tackles, multiple QB hurries and a pass breakup for good measure. He certainly flashed plenty for the NFL scouts on hand and looked like he could certainly be a player with all those All-Americans on the Tigers’ defensive line. Michael Walker also had a nifty punt return for a 74-yard touchdown that he took back after it hit a defender and bounced into his arms.

As for Clemson, their destruction of conference opponents trailed off a bit in the game but they still dominated nearly wire-to-wire against BC. QB Trevor Lawrence seemed to have the entire offense riding on his shoulders with tailback Travis Etienne limited to 78 yards on the ground and a nine-man box just about every touch. Going to the air though, the freshman passer completed 29-of-40 for 295 yards, an interception and a touchdown while adding a short scoring run as well.

Mix in a stellar effort on the defensive side plus an Amari Rodgers 58 yard punt return for a touchdown and it was overall a routine victory for Swinney and company even if the final score didn’t quite indicate the gap in performance between the two sides. Still, it’s time for those in orange and purple to officially book a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship Game in a few weeks — and probably eye a trip even further South to a College Football Playoff semifinal as well.

QB Anthony Brown injured but No. 17 Boston College still in it with No. 2 Clemson at halftime

Getty Images
Leave a comment

No. 17 Boston College has had a history of improbable upsets led by a heroic effort from their quarterback but if that’s to be the case against No. 2 Clemson on Saturday night, the Eagles will have to do so with a backup under center as the team trails 13-7 at halftime in a critical ACC showdown.

That’s because BC starter Anthony Brown injured his shoulder after All-American defensive lineman Christian Wilkins landed on him after a hit, driving the signal-caller into the turf in a legal, yet painful way. He wound up retreating into the locker room in the second quarter and was ruled out the rest of the game after completing two passes for six yards in a limited effort for the team’s offense. Jeff Smith did take over throwing the ball but couldn’t find much success moving the sticks after entering the game.

Even with Brown in the lineup though, the Eagles weren’t doing a ton on that side of the ball either way. Tailback A.J. Dillon did start despite an ankle injury he’s been dealing with for several weeks but recorded only 27 yards on the ground and was swarmed on just about every carry. Steve Addazio’s defense was solid in the first half but will need a lot more after returning from the locker room. Special teams were also a bright spot as Michael Walker did take a punt return, after the ball bounced off a Tigers player and into his hands, 74 yards along the sideline to the end zone to fire up the crowd on Chestnut Hill.

As for Clemson, Dabo Swinney can’t be happy at the lack of finishing long drives from his offense. Trevor Lawrence was already up to 216 yards passing (one TD) through the first two quarters and had already hooked up with seven different players for a reception. However the team found the end zone just once in three trips to the red zone and running back Travis Etienne had just 40 yards rushing. Overall, it was pretty clear that yards on the ground were hard to come by with a stacked box on just about every play, but that did allow the freshman QB to take his shots down the field and could be something for the team to build on going forward.

It is still an uphill battle for the home team the rest of the way but the Tigers are not really taking advantage of their opportunities to put this game away. It should all make for a very interesting second half with the ACC Atlantic title on the line between the two.

AJ Dillon returns to power Boston College past Miami

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
2 Comments

With Doug Flutie in attendance for some ACC action, Boston College (6-2, 3-1 ACC) didn’t need a Hail Mary to knock off  Miami (5-3, 2-2 ACC) on Friday night. AJ Dillon rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown in his return after missing two games and the Boston College defense forced a pair of turnovers that led to 10 points in the second half as Boston College topped Miami 27-14. The win helps keep Boston College in contention for the ACC Atlantic Division and muddies the waters a bit for Miami’s bid for a return trip to the ACC Championship Game.

Once Boston College took a 27-14 lead in the third quarter, the Eagles certainly gave Miami opportunities to get back in the game. But Miami turned the football over on downs after picking off a Boston College pass, and another turnover on downs followed a missed Boston College field goal. Two empty possessions after Boston College failed to tack on to their lead ultimately assured a defeat for Miami, making for a longer trip home than the Hurricanes would have preferred.

Boston College didn’t waste much time getting running back Dillon in action. Dillon took off for a 25-yard run on his first carry of the game and he would create some plays out of nothing a few more times in the game. Boston College also relied on some trick plays to make some big plays in the first half. But in the second half, Boston College didn’t have to dig into the bag of tricks much to put the game out of reach. It was the Boston College defense that helped create opportunities, with an interception of Malik Rosier giving the Eagles just 14 yards to go for a touchdown to create a double-digit lead. One play after Taj-Amir Torres picked off Rosier, Dillon took off to the right side of the field for a 14-yard score.

Rosier started off having a somewhat effective game for Miami as he returned to the starting role, but he ended the night with two interceptions while completing 18 of 35 passes for 149 yards. Rosier also rushed for s team-high 72 yards. Similarly, Boston College’s Anthony Brown completed 15-of-28 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown with an interception. Brown also rushed seven times for 44 yards and caught a 27-yard pass from Jeff Smith.

The win moves Boston College to 3-1 in the ACC, nudging the Eagles just past NC State for second place in the Atlantic Division behind unbeaten Clemson ahead of Saturday’s games. Already having clinched a third straight bowl-eligible season under Steve Addazio, the Eagles will now look to take the next step forward. After two straight years with seven wins, Boston College is in a spot where they can begin focusing on a larger goal. The seventh win could come next week on the road at Virginia Tech, with the Hokies really struggling at home the past few weeks. After that is a big home game against Clemson, the team everyone in the ACC is chasing at the moment. First place in the ACC Atlantic Division could very well be on the line in two weeks in Chestnut Hill. (It’s worth mentioning Boston College has already lost to NC State, so a win by the Wolfpack at Syracuse on Saturday would keep Boston College in third place in the division at the end of the weekend).

Meanwhile, Miami still has a lot of football to be played and is still in the running for the Coastal Division for a second straight season. Two straight losses in ACC play puts the Hurricanes behind the curve and one of the teams they are chasing for the top spot, Virginia, owns a head-to-head tiebreaker with them. It will be all division games from now until the end of the regular season for the Hurricanes though, and they figure to play a significant role in how the Coastal Division is settled. Miami will look to snap out of their losing skid next week at home against Duke.

J.T. Daniels bounces back to help USC to halftime lead over No. 19 Colorado

Getty Images
Leave a comment

USC’s true freshman quarterback bounced back from a rough first quarter to throw a trio touchdown passes and help the Trojans secure a 21-7 lead at halftime in a pivotal Pac-12 South battle with No. 19 Colorado at the Coliseum on Saturday night.

After an extremely ugly (and slow) start for both sides, it was the Buffs that started to get things going in the second quarter thanks to, who else, all-everything star Laviska Shenault. The receiver not only led his team in yardage through the air, but he was also CU’s leading rusher thanks to a 49 yard rushing touchdown for the game’s first points. QB Steven Montez couldn’t find his favorite target as much as he would have liked to, being forced to check down plenty while completing 14 passes for only 60 yards and taking a number of sacks.

Opposite number J.T. Daniels wasn’t any sharper early for USC but rebounded as the game went on deep into the cool Los Angeles night. Following two first quarter interceptions (one of the first offensive snap of the game), the freshman signal-caller started launching bombs to his wideouts down the field and seemed to find plenty of success as a result. All told, Daniels threw for 255 yards in the half and found both Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman Jr. (twice) for a trio of touchdowns all told.

The Trojans didn’t have any sort of ground game to lean on at all with a paltry seven yards rushing, making the throws their quarterback was making even more impressive. They also limited the Buffs’ ground attack, aside from the Shenault run, despite the absence of senior linebacker Cameron Smithwho was in street clothes for the game with an injury.

This is the biggest test yet for undefeated Colorado against the defending conference champions and doubles as the first of several key games in the South Division for both sides. There was already a shakeup in the North earlier in the day and as #Pac12AfterDark started setting in L.A., it appears one on the other side of the league is starting to take hold as well given the way this one is trending.

Chip Kelly still winless at UCLA as Laviska Shenault powers Colorado to another big win

Getty Images
4 Comments

There were times at Oregon where it felt like head coach Chip Kelly would never lose. Now at UCLA, it seems like that’s all he’s doing.

The Bruins big offseason addition remains winless in Westwood as his team dropped their Pac-12 opener at Colorado 38-16 on Friday night as the powder blues’ offense once again sputtered out on the road.

True freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson got the start at quarterback just over a week after his father made critical comments of the UCLA coaching staff but had a rough outing, throwing for only 138 yards and a touchdown on 35 attempts. Protection up front was once again an issue for the team as the signal-caller was sacked three times and had to scramble around in the pocket several other times to avoid getting tackled.

The Bruins actually held the third quarter lead at one point thanks in part to a trio of long field goals from kicker J.J. Molson but three straight three-and-outs by the offense allowed the Buffs to open things up and win this one going away. If there was a silver lining to the effort it was that Joshua Kelley did manage to crack the century mark with 124 yards rushing and Michael Ezeike snagged a pretty impressive touchdown catch in the first quarter right over the helmet of a defensive back.

Though Colorado did get off to a slow start in the game following a week off, they eventually found their groove in the second half and sent the crowd home quite happy. Leading the way once again for the Buffs was budding all-purpose star Laviska Shenaultwho rushed for a touchdown and recorded 126 yards and another score as a receiver. He’s now scored in every game this year for the team and should be a legitimate contender to make several midseason All-America lists given how much of a boost he’s provided to the offense.

Of course, Shenault isn’t doing things alone as quarterback Steven Montez was nearly perfect against a lackluster defense that allowed several big plays after missed assignments. All told he went 22-of-26 passing with 237 yards and a touchdown while also showcasing his legs with 81 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground.

Defensively, linebackers Drew Lewis (two sacks), Nate Landman (nine tackles) and Rick Gamboa were all over the place for CU.

While the story nationally will likely remain focused on the bad start for Kelly and company, the way UCLA is struggling it might be awhile before the Bruins are able to secure a win the way they are playing. Of course, the schedule does them no favors either as they will return to the Rose Bowl to face Pac-12 favorite Washington and then follow that up with a game against a Cal team that’s currently in the top 25. Add in the rest of their division slate and a crossover game against rival Stanford to close the season and it could be a while — if at all — before finding the win column.

Meanwhile, the Buffs increasingly look like they’re more and more of a threat to win the South division. They remain a perfect 4-0 for the first time in three decades heading into the meat of their schedule and host Arizona State next week in a game that very well could determine who makes it to Santa Clara for the conference title game.  Trips to USC and Washington after that could determine national relevance too but it certainly appears as though Mike MacIntyre is in the middle of another turnaround season up in Boulder while his latest